Skip to main content

Full text of "[untitled] The American Historical Review, (1899-12-01), pages 334-336"

See other formats


Early Journal Content on JSTOR, Free to Anyone in the World 

This article is one of nearly 500,000 scholarly works digitized and made freely available to everyone in 
the world by JSTOR. 

Known as the Early Journal Content, this set of works include research articles, news, letters, and other 
writings published in more than 200 of the oldest leading academic journals. The works date from the 
mid-seventeenth to the early twentieth centuries. 

We encourage people to read and share the Early Journal Content openly and to tell others that this 
resource exists. People may post this content online or redistribute in any way for non-commercial 

Read more about Early Journal Content at 
journal-content . 

JSTOR is a digital library of academic journals, books, and primary source objects. JSTOR helps people 
discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content through a powerful research and teaching 
platform, and preserves this content for future generations. JSTOR is part of ITHAKA, a not-for-profit 
organization that also includes Ithaka S+R and Portico. For more information about JSTOR, please 

334 Reviews of Books 

our own day. Above all, I have utterly failed to observe that the 
" principle ' ' sheds any startling light over Cosimo's policy. He wanted 
peace, he needed allies to get it — that is the history of his foreign rela- 
tions in a nut-shell. If he could have got a peace alliance which em- 
braced all the five Italian powers instead of merely three, he would in all 
probability have accepted it without grumbling at the annihilation of the 
balance of power which such a league would have entailed. It saves 
trouble to recognize once for all and at the outset that the conduct of 
every Italian ruler of that day was cheap and shifty and will baffle the 
attempt to arrange it under any great moral or political concept. 

A feature of the book that will be thankfully received is a brief de- 
scription of the complex Florentine constitution (Chapter I.). Here 
and elsewhere occasional sentences suffer a little from an access of either 
mental or grammatical vertigo, and in several places a lawless imagina- 
tion needs to be subjected to the pruning-knife. Thus on p. 158 we 
hear of the Radicals misbehaving toward the Democrats in the United 
States, and on p. 210 we are invited to ponder the art of the Goths and 

Ferdinand Schwill. 

Martin Luther, The Hero of the Reformation, 14.83-154.6. By 
Henry Eyster Jacobs, Dean and Professor of Systematic Theol- 
ogy, Evangelical Lutheran Seminary, Philadelphia. [Heroes 
of the Reformation.] (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. 1898. 
Pp. xvi, 454.) 

Philip Melancthon, The Protestant Preceptor of Germany, T^py—ij6o. 
By James William Richard, D.D., Professor of Homiletics, 
Lutheran Theological Seminary, Gettysburg. [Same Series.] 
(New York : G. P. Putnam's Sons. 1898. Pp. xvi, 399.) 
These two, the initial volumes of the series, set a high standard and 
give large promise for the remaining volumes. The Luther is richly 
illustrated with portraits of the leading personages mentioned, some of 
them rare, as that of Luther from the title-page of the Babylonian Captiv- 
ity, and all interesting, — the best we have, though the doubt will recur 
whether they afford any idea at all adequate or correct of the faces they 
represent. Numerous other illustrations of historical and antiquarian 
interest add to the value of the work. 

The story of Luther is not only that of the " Hero" of Protestantism, 
it is itself a romance. Told most literally and carefully, it can never lose 
its thrilling power while Protestant hearts continue to throb. It is little 
praise therefore to this particular telling of the story to say that it is in- 
tensely interesting from beginning to end. And when the present writer 
has little to say by way of mentioning striking peculiarities in the book, 
this is less to fail to praise this work than to give large praise to the long 
line of lives of Luther from the beginning to the present day. For this 
Life it may be fully claimed that it was written from the sources, that it 

Blok : Geschiedenis van het Nederlandscke Volk 335 

is truly original and individual in its view of the subject, and that it is 
faithful and correct. More spice might have been added to it, if the con- 
troversial element had been introduced, but something would have been 
thereby detracted from its simple straightforward truthfulness. Even that 
bitter calumny which Rome has not ceased to this day to repeat, that 
Luther died a suicide, is unnoticed, though the minute narration of the 
death-scene, which is its completest refutation, may have been determined 
in some respects by it. 

The life of Melancthon is conducted on the same general lines, and 
furnished with the same rich illustrations, as the Luther. It deals with 
a subject less familiar even to historians. The pure, self-effacing, and 
truly humble spirit of this peace-loving scholar forms a striking con- 
trast to the more tempestuous spirit of his colleague Luther, and yet they 
are alike plunged into the most troublous times. How fully the events 
of Melancthon's life are those of Luther's, determined by the public 
course of events in which Luther and not Melancthon was the leading 
force, this book strikingly exhibits, for it is almost as much a life of Lu- 
ther, while Luther still lives, as of Melancthon himself. In successive 
chapters it sketches the student preparation of the brilliant youth, then 
his career in the opening years at Wittenberg, his first attention chiefly 
paid to the more general field of classical study, but almost immediately 
absorbed by the overwhelming religious interests of the time in theo- 
logical study and publication, so that he became the earliest dogmatician 
of the Reformation, its most prolific writer upon exegesis, and upon a 
multitude 'of other subjects, preparing elementary treatises upon the 
widest range of themes, and thus earning the title " Preceptor of Ger- 
many. ' ' Soon comes the great service at Augsburg, where Melancthon 
was the author of the confession, which, read aloud in trumpet tones be- 
fore Emperor and Empire, became the rallying cry of all Protestantism. 
Luther remarked upon its irenic character, which he highly approved, 
that he himself could never " have walked so softly." The painful his- 
tory of the later years, when, Luther gone, Melancthon was led into 
various compromises with Catholicism in his efforts to save Protestantism 
from utter ruin, and the unprofitable controversies that attended his 
last days, are all faithfully told, with possibly too much detail for the 
general reader. A great man has been brought before us, and a great 
epoch, with full and worthy treatment. 

As to the chapters upon the "theology" of both Luther and Me- 
lancthon, we could wish that Ritschl's own defects and the natural hos- 
tility of American Lutherans to his theological tendencies, had not pre- 
vented these writers from setting forth that fundamental view of his, in 
which he was unquestionably right, and which has now been so well 
elaborated by Kaftan in his Truth, that to the original reformers the 
Reformation was a restoration of spiritual religion over against the for- 
malism of a dead theology which had been divorced from life, and that 
the Lutheran system, even as sketched finally by Melancthon, was to a 
degree a falling away from the first and high ideals of the movement. 

336 Reviews of Books 

Our authors have both failed to give a truly genetic and critically correct 
view of the theology of their subjects from neglect of this principle. 

Frank Hugh Foster. 

Geschiedenis van het Nederlandsche Volk. Door P. J. Blok. Vierde 
Deel. (Groningen : J. B. Wolters. 1899. Pp. 496.) 
In his task of setting forth the history of the Netherlandish people, 
the distinguished professor of Dutch history in the University of Leyden 
and the instructor in history of Queen Wilhelmina has completed his 
fourth volume. The period treated covers what many consider the most 
important events in the national history, the influence of which is still 
powerful in Dutch politics and social life. Not only do Holland's art 
and literature still reflect the inheritances from the years 160 9- 16 48, but 
from personal experiences among groups of Dutch gentlemen, we can 
bear witness that the controversy between admirers of Barneveld on the 
one hand and Maurice on the other, is still warm. When to political, 
religious elements are added to the discussion, it becomes hot. 

Dr. Petrus Johannes Blok has certainly, in his judicial poise and 
calm, inherited the spirit of him whom he calls " my revered master 
Fruin," but it can hardly be said that the style of the pupil equals that 
of the teacher. It is not merely a foreigner that must declare that there 
are manifest proofs of haste and occasional slovenliness of style, but natives 
find his very frequent use of the present participle a trifle irritating. 
Such an innovation in Dutch is not as pleasing as is the regular use of this 
form in French and English. This said, however, we heartily add our 
tribute of admiration for the admirable manner in which, as if scathless 
in an ordeal, he threads his way safely between and amid the hot plough- 
shares of religio-political strife. Standing above parties and factions, 
with admirable insight and breadth of view, he gives us his luminous 
judgments as to persons and things, causes and consequences. The 
Oranje-klants and Calvinistic dogma-makers on the one hand and the hide- 
bound and bigoted " Liberals " on the other will hardly praise Dr. Blok 
for his utter lack of partisanship. Sometimes one would prefer a less close 
adherence to the synthetic method and, for enjoyment in reading and for 
fortification of one's own convictions, a little more of the "virtuous par- 
tisanship ' ' of Macaulay or Motley or even Fruin, who call the execution 
of Barneveld a ' ' judicial murder ' ' ( een gerechtelijken moord) . Neverthe- 
less judicial candor is the author's first aim, and his treatment of the 
bloody episode of 16 19 is worth a mountain of what has been penned in 
late years by writers who are, first of all, partisans. To show, however, 
that our longing for more color and animus is not unreasonable, we may 
note that Dr. Blok's consistency in desire for fairness of judgment and 
possible fear of being charged with partisanship, becomes at times incon- 
sistency. In our day and time the action of Prince Maurice in repeatedly 
trampling on law and justice would be called a coup d'etat, and yet, on 
page 203, we find the author telling us that he " acted in all good faith ' ' 
{in alle goede trouw kandefend) .